Archive for September, 2008

Comments on a Third Term (UPDATE)
September 30th, 2008

This just in from the office of Councilmember John Liu:

“Council Member John Liu has long defended the will of the people as expressed through past public referenda. New Yorkers have voted twice before to limit office-holders to eight years. Regrettably, Mayor Michael Bloomberg now appears to favor changing the term limits without putting the question before the voters again. Although John does not support the concept of term limits, he certainly cannot and will not support the Mayor pushing this through. Times are tough but so are New Yorkers. And New York is a lot bigger than one man.”

And this from Pubic Advocate Betsy Gotbaum:

“I cannot support extending term limits by anything other than a public vote. It’s up to the people of New York to decide how long they want their elected officials in office, and they’ve already told us twice. It’s an insult to the democratic process and a slap in the face to New Yorkers to now render those votes meaningless.

“What matters here is what New Yorkers think and say on this issue, not what one powerful cosmetics heir has to say. The rules can not and should not be changed late in the game. That’s not the way our democracy works.

“This is a decision for the people; not for incumbents, not for editorial boards and not for a few wealthy and powerful individuals.”

And this from Comptroller William Thompson:
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By on September 30, 2008, 4:28 pm
In category: Gotham City | 4 Comments »

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Bloomberg To Seek Third Term
September 30th, 2008

The New York Times is reporting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will announce on Thursday his intention to seek a third term.

In order to do that, he first has to extend the city’s term limit law from two to three terms, or from eight to 12 years. Check out this story to see how that might happen.

Check out City Room for comments. In the half hour the post has been up, it has amassed more than 120 comments.

By on September 30, 2008, 3:20 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Bloomberg To Seek Third Term

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Run, Mike, Run
September 30th, 2008

They even chose the same headline.

This mornings editorial in the New York Post means that two of the citys three major local dailies (what was four until this morning) are backing a third term for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The News sang the same tune last week.

Both base their judgments on the economic crisis, arguing only experience can weather this Wall Street storm.

“New Yorkers deserve to select the person they feel is best qualified to pull the city through the crisis from among a full field of candidates,” the News said a week ago. “Bloomberg must be in the pack.”

In a dj vu moment, the Post echoed those remarks.
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By on September 30, 2008, 12:08 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Run, Mike, Run

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The Ongoing Turmoil
September 29th, 2008

Talk about timing.

On the day Wall Street experienced its single biggest drop in two decades, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a preliminary budget estimate saying the state could lose $3.5 billion in tax revenues by March 2010 thanks to the financial crisis.

The latest figures, he says, are 40,000 in job losses, a 50 percent decline in Wall Street bonuses and business taxes are down $366 million from last year.

This news came as the House defeated the $700 billion bailout package by a vote of 228 to 205 and the Standard & Poors 500-stock index fell nearly 9 percent a drop not seen since 1987 (Daily Politics has this breakdown of the New York delegations votes and some of their explanations).

The report elicited this reaction from Gov. David Paterson.
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By on September 29, 2008, 6:10 pm
In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on The Ongoing Turmoil

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Weekly Web Wrap
September 28th, 2008

  • A new workplace needed to attract young workers to state government.
  • Four candidates chosen for Manhattan Supreme Court seats.
    (Judicial Reports)
  • Spanish programing not included in Verizon’s New York FiOS rollout.
    (Multichannel News via NYConvergence)
  • Bloomberg criticizes Bush’s economic stimulus plan.
  • What caused the upsurge in police presence in South Williamsburg?
    (Block Magazine)
  • How to plan for New York’s aging population.
    (Architect’s Newspaper)
  • Senate minority leader doesn’t support commuter tax.
    (Capitol Confidential)
  • Entire block of Select Bus Service lane blocked by parked police.
  • New blog tracks Willets Point development.
    (Iron Triangle Tracker via The Real Estate)
  • Why do cities give away stadium naming rights?
    (Atlantic Yards Report)
  • By on September 28, 2008, 4:59 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on Weekly Web Wrap

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    Bus Rapid Transit or Second Avenue Subway?
    September 25th, 2008

    In a time of trillion dollar bailouts and billion dollar deficits, does an expensive new subway line make sense when there are possibly cheaper alternatives? Jim Dwyer posed the question in his New York Times column, and although the Times doesn’t allow comments, Streetsblog does, and a number of transit buffs are in a tizzy.

    The expensive project? The long awaited, oft derailed, Second Avenue Subway. The alternative? Bus Rapid Transit.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 25, 2008, 6:10 pm
    In category: Public Finance,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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    Death by Taser
    September 25th, 2008

    The police department has issued a statement faulting the conduct of officers whose actions in Brooklyn yesterday caused the fatal fall of an apparently disturbed man, Inman Morales. Morales, who had been standing naked on the ledge of a building waving a long fluorescent light bulb, fell to his death after police fired a Taser at him.

    In the statement, the department criticizes the officers on the scene for not having an inflatable bag to cushion Morales’ fall or taking other steps to spare him injury. “The order to employ the Taser under these circumstances appears to have violated guideline … which specifically state that ‘when possible, the [Taser] should not be used … in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface,'” the statement said. The department has placed the lieutenant who directed the use of the Taser on modified assignment and put the officer who fired the stun gun on modified duty. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office is investigating.

    The incident brings to the fore two nettlesome issues for the department: Its use of Tasers, which employ electric shocks to disable a suspect, and its handling of cases involving mentally disturbed people.
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    By on September 25, 2008, 1:49 pm
    In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Gotham City,Health | 4 Comments »

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    The Mayor's Pot (UPDATE)
    September 24th, 2008

    Since the Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office he has doled out approximately $19.7 million in discretionary funding, according to a memo released today by the administration.

    In the memo, Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler details who received discretionary funding from the administration, including past and present council members. After the jump, there is a list of members and how much he or she received from the administration since fiscal year 2003.

    This year, the mayor did not hand out any discretionary funding.

    According to the memo, the administration is working with the Department of Investigation to ensure none of the funds were misappropriated.

    So far, the memo says, about 1,600 groups have applied to qualify for discretionary funds for this year’s budget, which includes a more strenuous vetting process than pre-council slush fund scandal. Of those, 1,000 have completed the process to date.

    UPDATE: The full memo also appears after the jump.
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    By on September 24, 2008, 7:20 pm
    In category: Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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    Willets Point Approved (UPDATE)
    September 24th, 2008

    This just in from the City Planning Commission: the redevelopment of Willets Point — land primarily comprised of dirt roads and auto body shops, adjacent to Shea Stadium — has been approved by the commission by a vote of 11 to 1, according to Rachaele Raynoff of city planning.

    The proposal has already met serious community opposition and criticism in the City Council. (For more on the plan and the opposition, A Sustainability Test at Willets Point and Climate Change Could Threaten a Green Willets Point).

    The application was approved with modifications, which we will be bringing to you in a bit.

    Stay tuned.

    Update: The modifications approved by the commission this morning focus primarily on incorporating green building standards within the mixed-use development. Incentives were given for car sharing programs (car sharing equals greater number of parking spaces in a development) and encouraging the incorporation of green roofs.

    Other changes address a green median for the primary retail street to act as a stormwater management element, solar orientation of buildings and including a varied design for the developments taller buildings, according to city planning.
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    By on September 24, 2008, 12:54 pm
    In category: Community Development,Land Use | 5 Comments »

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    Bloomberg and the Bust
    September 22nd, 2008

    Whatever the problem these days, it seems someone will look to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to come to the rescue. So it is with the current financial turmoil.
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    By on September 22, 2008, 8:44 am
    In category: Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Public Finance | Comments Off on Bloomberg and the Bust

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    The Web, Wrapped Up
    September 19th, 2008

  • Council resolution to ask Feds to open spectrum called “white space.”
    (Broadband Advisory Committee)
  • New York ties Nebraska for 18th place in web-savvy state rankings.
    (Center for Digital Government)
  • Catsimatidis interviewed for ‘Secrets Of The Self-Made.’
  • More building shouldnt mean more deaths.
    (City Journal)
  • A plea to rekindle Astroland negotiations.
    (Municipal Arts Society)
  • Makers of new ratings technology accused of lying at City Council hearing.
    (Radio Ink via NYConvergence)
  • Growth in truck traffic should increase support for freights.
    (Tri-State Transportation Campaign)
  • NYCLU educates New Yorkers with criminal records of their voting rights.
    (The Albany Project)
  • Rethinking the bodega.
    (Next American City)
  • Judges must police the police.
    (Judicial Reports)
  • First school certified by the Green Schools opens doors.
  • Today parks will replace a number of parking spaces.
    (Park(ing) Day NYC)
  • By on September 19, 2008, 12:01 pm
    In category: Gotham City | Comments Off on The Web, Wrapped Up

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    Showdown in the Bronx
    September 19th, 2008

    For years the Bronx Democratic Party organization, headed by State Assemblymember Jose Rivera, has seemed a throwback to a bygone era. It controlled who won elective offices in the borough, as Rivera rewarded his friends and especially his family, getting his son elected to City Council at age 23 and grooming him for the borough presidency, while his daughter got an Assembly seat.

    But that could change. A series of reversal on primary day last week have left the organization facing what Jonathan Hicks in today’s Times calls “its deepest internal crisis in years, one that threatens to oust its chairman.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 19, 2008, 11:41 am
    In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing | Comments Off on Showdown in the Bronx

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    Bloomberg Has A Lot of Billions
    September 17th, 2008

    It would take the average New Yorker a week and a half to earn a $1,000 paycheck. Mayor Michael Bloomberg does it in 3.7 seconds.

    The latest assessment of Bloombergs net worth from Forbes has come in at $20 billion. Thats billion with a B.

    In the last five years, while his gaze was turned on philanthropy it’s arguably now focused on term limits the mayor gave away $800 million.

    All this means hes the eighth richest person in the United States. Bill Gates was number one.

    For the rest of the Forbes ranking, go here.

    By on September 17, 2008, 6:10 pm
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    New York in a Bottle
    September 17th, 2008

    Bottling filtered New York City tap water and reselling it may sound crazy, but Tap’dNY is willing to bet on it. The company promotes the idea as one of local pride and a good choice for the environment. In their manifesto, (yes, they have a manifesto), they argue that they will create local jobs, reduce pollution by cutting down on transportation of the water, and will not deplete natural resources.

    But is it really environmentally friendly?

    NYPIRG‘s Laura Haight thinks not. “It’s a huge negative,” she says. Most water bottles end up thrown away, she notes, and the accompanying costs probably outweigh the benefits. “New York ships its waste all across the country.”

    In fact, water and other non-carbonated beverages, are not included in the state’s bottle deposit law, and thus are recycled at even lower rates than usual. Nationally, only about 12 percent of non-carbonated beverage bottles are recycled. (This statistic is conveniently animated in the video at right). That is less than half of the recycling rates for plastic bottles generally.

    And a lot of that ends up in the ocean.
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    By on September 17, 2008, 1:53 pm
    In category: Albany,Environment | Comments Off on New York in a Bottle

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    Thompson: More Doom to Come
    September 17th, 2008

    Nothing, emphasis on nothing, is off the table when it comes to responding to the economy and its affect on the city budget, said Comptroller William Thompson this morning at a Citizens Union sponsored breakfast brief.

    That includes the 7 percent tax break given to New York City property owners for the last several years.

    There are things that we are not going to be able to do, like property tax cuts that we did before, Thompson told a standing room only audience at New York University this morning. As we continue to assess, everything is back on the table.

    And what the city has already planned for in this years budget, including 25,000 in job losses and a 12.5 decrease in revenue from the personal income tax, may not give us immunity from the recent turmoil on Wall Street. Sure we planned, said Thompson, but the worse is yet to come.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 17, 2008, 11:16 am
    In category: Gotham City | 1 Comment »

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    Running for Office Without Even Knowing It
    September 16th, 2008

    When Victoria Lebron decided to run for a seat on the Queens Democratic Party‘s county committee, she thought it would be a good idea to reach out to her competitor. Since the district her seat would cover in Astoria spans only about four blocks, she thought it would be neighborly. “I also wanted to see what her platform was about,” concedes Lebron, a fundraiser at New York University.

    But when she contacted her opponent, Gertrude Bolkart, she learned that she had no intention of running for office. In fact, Bolkart’s name was submitted to the Board of Elections without her knowledge. “One day, I received a letter saying my name was being translated into Korean for the ballot,” Bolkart, 88, says in a thick German accent. “It was the first I’d heard about it.”

    Bolkart says that she was a member of the Pocahontas Democratic Club 20 years ago, but other than that, she has no idea where somebody would even get her name from.

    “If a person’s name is placed on a designating petition without her consent, it is a fraud on the voters,” says Jerry Goldfeder, election law chair at the New York City Bar Association. As a recourse for people who had their names submitted without their consent, he says they “can ask either the Board of the Elections or the district attorney to investigate how it happened and whether there was a violation of the election law or a crime.”

    Insiders say that this happens regularly. “People work from old lists and pull names,” says Henry Berger, an elections lawyer. “It’s most frequently the political parties, since they control the petitioning process.”

    But Mike Rice, the executive secretary for the Democratic Organization of Queens, contends that “it’s not an issue.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 16, 2008, 3:46 pm
    In category: Governing | 1 Comment »

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    Gov. Responds to Financial Crisis
    September 15th, 2008

    Gov. David Paterson’s office just put out the release below, responding to the sour financial news. It directs the state’s Labor Department to “reach out” to affected Wall Street workers.

    This follows an announcement earlier today that the state would give the American International Group, or A.I.G., a $20 billion loan from its subsidiaries to keep it afloat.

    Paterson said the state was approached by the massive insurance company for help, and they worked together over the weekend. This assistance is in contrast with a statement Mayor Michael Bloomberg made at a press conference today.

    “No one should look to us for their own improved budgeting,” he said — a clear sign that the city would not be making any loans to Wall Street’s financial institutions.

    Here is the latest:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 15, 2008, 6:53 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 5 Comments »

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    City On Track, Despite Financial Turmoil
    September 15th, 2008

    Its not a dark day, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just a sad one.

    At a briefing on how Wall Streets turmoil could affect the citys economy, Bloomberg, flanked by Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Comptroller William Thompson, said despite the bankruptcy of one major financial firm and the acquisition of another, the citys budget is still balanced and revenues are coming in as expected.

    Thats because, the mayor said at a press conference this afternoon, officials were fiscally prudent, paid down debt in advance, cut spending and factored in job losses during budget negotiations.

    While 12,000 people could lose their jobs with Lehman Brothers declaring bankruptcy, the sight of fraught employees carrying out boxes from the companys Manhattan offices, which have been in New York City since after the Civil War, should not fret the citys economic observers.

    The city was prepared for this, said Bloomberg.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 15, 2008, 4:16 pm
    In category: Gotham City | 2 Comments »

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    Weekly Web Wrappings
    September 12th, 2008

  • Billions in unclaimed funds for Queens flooding.
    (State comptroller’s office)
  • The shifting judicial landscape.
    (Judicial Reports)
  • Congressional committee to look at Yankees Stadium and Atlantic Yards.
    (Atlantic Yards Report)
  • Citi Field to go green.
    (Bronx Council for Environmental Quality)
  • Fantasies of destroying New York.
    (New York Press)
  • Coney Island history project.
    (Brooklyn Rail)
  • East New York farmers market turns ten.
    (Sustainable Flatbush)
  • State tries to reduce congestion with traffic cameras.
  • Giant (half) naked illegal billboard.
  • What will the magazine of the future look like?
  • By on September 12, 2008, 11:26 am
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    Party Crashers
    September 11th, 2008

    In a bid for change inspired by Barack Obama, a group called the New Kings Democrats was formed earlier this year to elect a slate of new members to the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s County Committee. Their goal was to get 50 new members on the committee, which elects county bosses, among other things.

    That wasn’t a difficult task, given how many seats are vacant: Of the 6,200 county seats available in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, 3,800 were vacant before the election, according to Grassroots Initiative (fixed), which helps candidates run for these seats citywide. Of those seats occupied, 1,400 simply filled out the paperwork. There wasn’t even an election since they were the only ones running. Another 900 were appointed by the party after the election.

    While the group was able to find 43 candidates to run for the vacant, uncontested seats, the results for candidates who had competition was mixed. In fact, Matt Cowherd, one of the founders of New Kings, and an attorney by trade, lost in his own race in Bushwick. His running mate also lost (voters elect one male and one female for each county seat).

    In 14 contested races, the group won seven, lost four and results for the other four are still unknown, Cowherd says, based on official and unofficial results. The Brooklyn Optimist, a blogger and professor, ran on the slate, but it is unknown yet whether he won. Council candidate Esteban Duran, who is vying for Diana Reynas term limited seat in Bushwick, ran for county committee with New Kings and won.

    Others never made it to the ballot. Out of eleven challenges to New Kings’ petitions, five lost, Cowherd says. One was Oscar Muoz of Dyker Heights, who was originally unaffiliated with a party and didn’t change his registration in time.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    By on September 11, 2008, 4:03 pm
    In category: Governing | 7 Comments »

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    Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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